NPR logo All Tomorrow's Parties 2010 In Photos

All Tomorrow's Parties

All Tomorrow's Parties 2010 In Photos

Walking into Kutsher's Country Club — the Monticello, N.Y., site of the All Tomorrow's Parties Music Festival — was like stepping into the decayed memory of bygone decades. A dated typeface stretched into a neon sign, minimalist furniture lined the hallways and filled the lobbies, paint was peeling from every corner of the hotel and there was a certain musty air that only comes from years of neglect and generations of guests. And with no V.I.P. passes or roped-off areas, musicians, comedians, fans and Sunday's curator, director Jim Jarmusch, all co-mingled in the puzzling layout of Kutsher's. This surreal setting set the atmosphere for a completely unique concert-going experience.

While sipping a tasty beverage by the lake or catching a movie in the Criterion Cinema provided respite for our ears, we were certainly at ATP for the music. With stuttered schedules, it was possible to get a taste of everything at the two stages, but the draw of the Stardust Room (the main stage) always felt like an event. Tiered in levels like something out of a classic '50s movie, if you wanted to stand in the back, you could still see Iggy Pop spastically dance like no 63-year-old man should during The Stooges' performance of Raw Power. And then there was the best sound system I've ever heard. When Sleep performed Holy Mountain for ATP's "Don't Look Back" series on Friday night, the chunka-chunka riffs of "The Druid" never sounded so deliriously thick. And the hypnotic, one-riff epic "Dopesmoker" was minimalist metal bliss pulsing from the speakers, a transcendental sound rattling the ribcage of every slow-motion fist-pumper.

There was plenty of nostalgia by way of the "Don't Look Back" series and older acts like Sonic Youth, Hallogallo (Michael Rother performing the music of kraut-rock pioneers Neu!), and Wu-Tang Clan members GZA and Raekwon, but new artists kept the weekend fresh. Bob Boilen was especially impressed by California pop group Girls and psychedelic band Sian Alice Group. I found my infinite headbang in White Hills, a relentlessly heavy psych-rock band with scorching wah-wah and fantastic outfits, and got some sweaty man-hugs in the pit from F——- Up's Pink Eyes.

But ATP's grand moment was Altar, the collaboration between doom/drone-lords Sunn 0))) and Japanese heavy rock band Boris, the second-ever performance of the album. Boilen sums it up best when he calls it "a sensation beyond hearing." The volume was pure, though never piercing. When Jesse Sykes joined the musicians onstage for the blissed-out "The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)," she was a vision wrapped in a hooded robe, vulnerably singing the chorus over divebombing Moogs. At its conclusion, Boris drummer Atsuo, ever the showman, stood at the foot of the stage and raised devil horns to the stunned audience — and as I looked back, every hand was in the air. We then carried Atsuo through the crowd, ending this vibration ritual.

We're currently working to archive a selection of concerts from ATP, but in the mean time, hear All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's take on ATP, plus a live recording of Iggy and the Stooges performing "No Fun."

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